Artists are artists right?
About the only thing that, to me, defines an artist is by their ability to produce something creative that someone else can view, hear, or otherwise experience. That's about the only similarity between artists.
Sure some of the mechanics of how we think may be similar, but I also assure you that it can be widely variable and different, even mysterious.
Above: Cait 2013 with some post messing around. Previously unreleased.
But could associating with certain artists be causing you artistic harm?
Think about that. I did, I chewed on it for a couple of days until I figured out SOMETHING (thus this writing).
The other day I was looking at Facebook and saw a meme fly by on the wall. It made sense to me.
It also answered questions in my mind about why sometimes I get so turned off concerning photography. I noticed at one time that I was surrounded by people in the red area (If you're reading this blog post you probably aren't one of them so don't introspect on it). I deleted my connection with those people. It's nothing personal, I'm just not ready to have that in my life constantly hammering at my sense of worthiness.
That said, a wise man (Don Giannatti) once gave me advice sometime back about not listening to social media concerning photography. As in, social media doesn't control or drive the industry so you shouldn't base any life decisions on what other people are all (whining) talking about.
So very true.
In other words you have more power over your income, your life, your associations than what others on social media say. And you can't get an accurate picture from social media. It's too captive and there are too many people who just repeat or forward things without any understanding or basis for truth. And if there is one thing I've learned about social media, it's that when you get a bunch of people together, more often than not, they will all end up agreeing on how bad it is. It's often tougher to convince people that it actually isn't so bad.
Anyway, I digress.
My point is that you can sabotage yourself by associating with ego-maniacs even if they are artists.
So here is what I have learned, summarized. I often write this stuff, not just as advice to others, but to remind myself later. This is after all, my journal.
1) Keep ego-maniacs at arms length from your personal and professional life. Or a football field if that is more comfortable. That is a personal decision. It's cool to socialize with people, but avoid too much time with the "me me me me" people.
2) Keep your own counsel and integrity about your own art. Don't compare yourself to anyone else.
3) Ignore social media or if you must, have lots of grains of salt on hand. Or whiskey. But really social media can be poisonous to your mind and thus your creativity.
4) Encourage others. Everyone of us to a greater or lesser degree has self doubt. Knowing this, you can affect others by encouraging them. Sometimes that's all they need to keep at it.
5) Don't quit. No matter how bad, negative or otherwise non optimum anything may appear, seem or be, remember who you are, remember what you can do. Where you have been and what you want to accomplish before you move on.
Whether you are making art for yourself (it can be therapeutic) or for others (equally therapeutic, though sometimes stressful) just remember that an artist is a special breed that when allowed to shine, can affect millions. Whether the medium is music, painting, photography, poetry, writing or performance (etc) ... artists have a tremendous power and responsibility. They can inject joy, sadness or really any kind of emotion into the masses. If you are an artist, you are one of them.
Above: 20 years goes by fast.